There are some people who would do anything for Irish except speak it.
Perhaps politicians are the worst in this respect. A debate was held last week as part of Féile an Phobail in Belfast. Gregory Campbell and Joe Brolly took part in the event. Joe said that Irish posed a threat to nobody. Gregory said that some politicians use ‘a couple of words’ just to annoy another people. I think myself that it is right for politicians to use Irish in Stormont. It gives them an opportunity to show everyone that it is a living language. But if they don’t have reasonable Irish, the adage ‘Silence is golden’ should apply. In the General Election campaign in the Republic in 2011 there was a debate in Irish involving Mícheál Ó Máirtín, Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmour. Many people were surprised that the leaders had such good Irish. It is a pity that we don’t have events like that more often. A lot of people thought that Joe McHugh’s appointment as Minister of the Gaeltacht was an insult to Irish speakers. He had only broken Irish. But, to give him his due, he did a crash course and his Irish improved immensely. He is doing another course in Gleann Cholm Cille this year. He has promised that he will continue studying Irish as Minister for the Diaspora and that he will use
his new role to promote Irish at home and abroad. He will have plenty of opportunities: various groups are doing great work for Irish throughout the world, from the Gaelic League in Glasgow to the Irish Language Association of Australia. There is a saying in Irish, ‘Your tongue will take you to Rome’. Doubtlessly Joe will be travelling farther than that. I hope his journeys abroad will bring more recognition and respect to Irish. An afterthought: What about a compulsory crash course in Irish for TD’s that don’t have any Irish?